Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center


Research at the Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center focuses on providing the scientific understanding and technologies needed to support and implement sound management and conservation of our Nation's biological resources occurring in Hawai'i and other Pacific island locations.

Spotlight on Research

Spotlight on Research

Learn more about how researchers are tracking how rare plants are responding to changing environmental conditions.

Plant Responses

Featured Scientist

Featured Scientist

PIERC Microbiologist Dr. Carter Atkinson is using new tools to detect emerging threats and rare species in Pacific Island ecosystems.

Atkinson Research


Date published: June 8, 2018

Keeping Track of "Caly"

Caly isn't likely to wonder off off, but with a remote camera and monitoring station online 24-hours a day, USGS and partners at the State of Hawai‘i Division of Forestry and Wildlife, University of Hawai‘i, and the USFWS can learn how an extremely rare plant is responding to changes in environmental conditions.

Date published: November 22, 2017

Sniffing Out Better Tools for Addressing Avian Botulism

Dogs have great olfactory abilities and wildlife biologists think they can help endangered waterbirds in Hawai‘i. Dogs are being trained to sniff out the endangered ducks (koloa maoli (Anas wyvilliana) and Laysan ducks (A. laysanensis)) that die of avian botulism. 

Date published: July 10, 2017

Hawaiian Birds Rapidly Colonize Young Restoration Forest

Forest birds on the island of Hawaii are responding positively to being restored in one of the largest, ongoing reforestation projects at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, according to a new study released July 10 in the journal Restoration Ecology.


Year Published: 2019

Regeneration of Metrosideros polymorpha forests in Hawaii after landscape‐level canopy dieback

Questions(a) Have Metrosideros polymorpha trees become re‐established in Hawaiian forests previously impacted by canopy dieback in the 1970s? (b) Has canopy dieback expanded since the 1970s? (c) Can spatial patterns from this dieback be correlated with habitat factors to model future dieback in this area?Study SiteAn 83,603 ha study...

Mertelmeyer, Linda; Jacobi, James D.; Mueller-Dombois, Dieter; Brinck, Kevin W.; Boehmer, Hans Juergen

Year Published: 2019

Economical environmental sampler designs for detecting airborn spread of fungi responsible for rapid `Ōhi` death

We designed two new samplers for monitoring airborne particulates that rely on either natural wind currents (Passive Environmental Sampler) or a battery-operated fan (Active Environmental Sampler). Both samplers are significantly less expensive than commercial devices such as Rotorod® and Burkard Samplers that are used in the agricultural and...

Atkinson, Carter T.; Roy, Kylle; Granthon, Carolina

Year Published: 2019

The epidemiology of avian pox and interaction with avian malaria in Hawaiian forest birds

Despite the purported role of avian pox (Avipoxvirus spp.) in the decline of endemic Hawaiian birds, few studies have been conducted on the dynamics of this disease, its impact on free‐living avian populations, or its interactions with avian malaria (Plasmodium relictum). We conducted four longitudinal studies of 3–7 yr in length and...

Samuel, Michael; Woodworth, Bethany L.; Atkinson, Carter T.; Hart, Patrick J.; Lapointe, Dennis